Blow by Blow

We hold what hope we can in the intimacies of life, the little breadcrumbs—be that through a small audience, a jewel of a sentence, or one evening well spent with a book. Rarely do we understand our impact on others, where the sliver of an action can set a spark in someone.

As writers, we cannot map the internal landscapes of our audiences. We cannot peer over their shoulders as they read our words and we cannot be inside their heads and hearts as the syllables hit their ears. Occasionally, we can get a sort of call and response, where we feel and see how our individual creativity inspires and feeds off another’s (like when Cam and I write poetry back and forth, or like when letter writing takes on a lyrical quality, or like that book by Marvin Bell and William Stafford).

And so our lives are lived largely on faith. Writing is a small boat and faith is the ocean it floats upon. The best writing happens when we ditch the paddle, leap from the boat, and do what we must fearlessly and without looking back.

Today, that is my struggle. I just got the email that I did not get selected as a finalist for the Andy Warhol Arts Writers Grant Program – this was the $34,000 one that was my ticket out of my Coffeehouse job, my ticket into a career as an arts writer, and my ticket into the
next bigger and brighter thing. This was, in effect, the biggest thing I’ve hoped for alongside my applications to Whitman College and Pacific University. And I did not get it. Not even a chance to advance to the final round of review.

I’m reading and puttering; trying to get back to my creative self. Sending out the Fine Arts Work Center application this morning took a lot of me. I don’t believe that I’ll get it, and I had to fill out the application on the heels of 4 rejections last week (all for my thesis work). Then today, this—the biggest rejection of my career work I’ve ever had.

I’m at a loss and yet I know I cannot stop. I have to keep going, yet where I thought a big shift was in sight, now I’m not sure there is one.

That’s me. Here on the mountain. Snowed in again. And going now to put another log on the fire.

Showing 4 comments
  • Felicity

    On with the lunatic struggle! I’m sorry this didn’t happen for you, but I know you will keep going. All of us, all over the world, marching forward through that blizzard, hands under our arms and humming whatever tune will keep us leaning forward and stamping a tingle into our toes with each step.

    I don’t think you’re going to give up. I won’t give up. We’re going to find a warm fire and cocoa someday, and personally, I believe there will be gargantuan piles of marshmallows. Keep the faith!


  • alessa

    Oh KT, I’m so sorry you didn’t get the grant. But is there somewhere else you can look for money to support yourself while you write? I can’t imagine how you feel right now.

    You probably don’t read a lot of sci fi, but your situation reminds me of Bellwether by Connie Willis. Short, sweet book you might like anyway, because it’s fiction about science here on earth, not somewhere out in the stars. Maybe you need to be connected with the students and faculty at the coffeehouse for a bit more. Maybe there’s someone you need to meet there or something you need to do in relation to the school before you can leave? Hell, I don’t know what I’m talking about. Just know that I commiserate (sp?) and will give you a big hug the next time I see you. Tonight?

  • Joy Tanner

    I’m sorry to hear your big shift didn’t yet take place, but I’m sure there is one coming, even if it is different than you might expect. Even though I am an emerging potter and not a writer, I feel very similar and understand about the ups and downs, as well feeling like I mirror your eagerness and determination to move forward. I feel as if I’m kind of in a middle point right now as well, wanting all the glory and security of a creative life right now, while also knowing that things just take time. We have to keep on keeping on. And isn’t that snow so pretty?

  • Megan

    sorry, kate. there are lots of things I could write, but just know that I’m sending lots of hugs your way…

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